Our schedule for the programming phase of the Monastery has been slightly adjusted.  Please note the revisions on the calendar tab of the blog or download the latest calendar here (120125__12F_A306_Calendar).


2a | Monastery Research and Precedent

Our first step will be to investigate the building typology and program through an intensive research and precedent analysis phase.  

– perform thorough research on an unknown building typology
– research and document specific monastery precedents for comparison and analysis
– develop a detailed space program from your research and building planning exercises

general research:
Begin to familiarize yourself with the Monastery building typology by researching the history of Monasteries and the Monastic Orders using any and all available resources.  Document your findings in the form of notes, tables, timelines, etc and be sure to include bibliographic references.  Initial readings should include but are not limited to –

At a minimum, you must answer the following questions with your research:
What are the similarities and differences between the Benedictine, Cistercian and Mendicant Orders?
What is the general history of the Monastic Orders? Why, how, where and when did they exist
Key spatial/architectural differences between the architecture of the various orders?
Typical daily routines of the Cistercian Order?
What relationship do each of the orders have with the public/outside world?


  1. The Abbey Church of the St. John’s Benedictine Monastery by Marcel Breuer
  2. Baldegg Monastery, Hochdorf, Switzerland (1968-1972) by Marcel Breuer
  3. The Abbey at Vaals by Hans van der Hejden (Hans van der Laan)
  4. Monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur, Czech Republic by John Pawson.
  5. Tautra Monastery, Tautra, Norway, Jensen and Skodvin
  6. Knocktopher Friary, ODOS Architects
  7. Fountains Abbey:  Yorkshire,  1132ad
  8. Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, Provence, 1148ad
  9. Mont Saint Michel,  Normandy France, 6thc
  10. Rila Monastery, Bulgaria, 10thc
  11. Fontenay Abbey, Burgundy France, 12thc
  12. Santa Maria de Poblet – Catalonia Spain, 12thc
  13. Cluny Abbey, Burgundy France
  14. Batalha Monastery, Portugal Spain
  15. St. Germain-des-Prés, Paris, 6th century

precedent research (due Friday, February 3rd, or as decided by your studio instructor):
From the below list, select a precedent and research and document the project in an agreed upon and standardized format within your own studios.  At the minimum, you are to document the following for each project:
When was the monastery built and how long did it operate?
Where is it located?  Is there a reason behind the location?  Are there unique site conditions?
What are the programmatic components of each monastery? Label and similarly color code each of the typical spaces including Cloister, Church, Chapter House, Chapel, Refectory, Library, Sleeping Quarters.
What is the size, layout, scale and orientation of each project.  Provide labeled plans at equal scales.
Architectural materials and structural systems?
Key similarities and differences between precedent and conventional monastic order if any?
Entry points for public and private users?

precedent analysis (due Friday, February 3rd, or as decided by your studio instructor):
The precedent study must go beyond the simple copying of existing photography or documentation found on the web.  The investigation of the precedent requires a more critical method of analysis – by drawing the floor plan (even by tracing), you will inevitably develop a deeper understanding.
What are the component parts of the building?  Can you break it down by space, structure,   circulation, etc?  Can you explain why?

space program (due Monday, February 6th, 2pm or as decided by your studio instructor)-
On Friday, February 3rd, we will have an in studio workshop to develop the basic building planning ‘building blocks’ for each space in the program.  NOTE TO ALL: BRING YOUR LAPTOPS TO STUDIO.  In studio, we will each draw the basic ‘building blocks’ in both plan and section to house each specified functions of the program.  We will use what we have learned about each of the spaces through our research to construct the required space (size and scale, not design) and use these establish the square footages and volumes detailed within your own individual space program spreadsheet.

Bertrand Goldberg | Architecture of Invention

Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention

Art Institute of Chicago

January 14, 2012

Paola Arce and Maryana Heilman

You have all seen his work, and even if every time you admire one of his building or look at a building and think: “Oh, that looks like that one building down by the river, wonder if they are by the same Architect?” Well the answer is most likely “YES, it is another Bertrand Goldberg Building.”

Most famous for the iconic Marina City Towers, Mr. Goldberg’s works are represented not only all around Chicago, but throughout the country. The exhibit, which we had the pleasure to catch on its last weekend at the Art Institute, highlighted some of the great works by the architect which innovated the way people saw apartment living.

What we immediately noticed upon entering the exhibit was that the panel right in front of the door was actually made out of concrete! How cool! So we looked around it, touched it, took a picture of it. This entrance piece, very appropriate to Mr. Goldberg’s work, was a two panel curved piece with 2×4’s imprinted on the concrete about 10 feet tall. This piece immediately created a  barrier from preceding forward which forced us to go left or right. There was no clear path as to which one to take so we both went in different directions meeting up at different spots along the way. The exhibit itself was designed by John Ronan Architects. The exhibit space actually corresponded with Mr. Goldberg’s work which we didn’t quite understand until we experienced the gallery space in a floor plan. . His earlier works were displayed in a rectilinear space and his later works were displayed on angled walls and curved corners; very similar to his later fascination with curvilinear geometries. The work had a definite chronological progression, but not in the usual early to late work one comes to expect. The most iconic pieces of his work were displayed earlier in your transition through the gallery. Between the galleries, the frames of the entrances were lined with mirrors, creating a sense that the exhibition space continued through the openings. Although the mirrors did open up the space, creating a continuous experience of Mr. Goldberg’s work, it made us feel uneasy, because as you were in line with the mirrors, all you could see was yourself repeated over and over again, making you focus on your reflection not the work exhibited.

We toured the exhibit and discovered phenomenal sketches, hand drafted plans and   models that exemplified the understanding of the projects, some of them as big as 4-5 feet tall, others were just big enough for a person to pick up and really grasp the project. His plans showed geometries with detailed measurements, and his diagrams were full of color and where easily understood with a simple glance, this for us, helped us understand the importance of a clear concise diagram. It helped us through the exhibit understand where his ideas came from.  His perspectives were mixed media that included photographs from the site with the rendered hand drawn perspectives as well as water colors, just like the workshop we had last semester! We both watched a video on how the towers were actually made and watched footage of them pouring the concrete slabs for each floor. Working with concrete creatively challenged him to think of space in a new way,  which was reflected in the forms that his buildings took. Creating a building with a radial plan gave him the ability to give every apartment a view of the city that surrounded them, because of that great advantage; he sought to take down any obstacle in his way. Dividing the building in wedges created an opportunity space for solving the structural aspect of the project. Thanks to concrete and how it can withstand great compression forces Mr. Goldberg created a building that minimized the space needed for the structure. Having a structural core eliminated the interior columns and created exterior columns that helped divide the spaces wedges and apartments giving them not only a structural aspect but also a functional one. The radial plan also helped him created a symmetrical plan inside an irregular shape. It’s interesting to relate this building with Crown Hall. Both symmetrical and minimal in design but different materials. The floor plan of Marina works just like crown except for concrete allows for more creative freedom.

Towards the end we started finding more and more grid like-plans, moving away from his radial plans and wedges. If I had not seen marina city or some of the other well-known works I would have never guessed that these last drawings were his. This was interesting to think that not all architects start with that this phenomenal idea and are instantly a hit at a young age. It takes practice and experience. On the last wall we were admiring some early drawings and found a lot of creative sketches. For example, a design for a jack in the box caught our eyes. It was on display next to some furniture pieces. This got us thinking. Architects are well rounded individuals. We look for inspiration all around us. From the food that we eat to the toys we play with. We are curious individuals always asking how and why certain things are the way they are.

Experiencing all of Mr. Goldberg’s work as an art form has made us appreciate his architecture more. Now every time we pass by any of the buildings, we can’t help and look back at all of the compiled worked and know the process that had to be taken to make such icons of the city possible.

Here are the links to the Movie about Marina City produced by the Portland Cement Association:
Part 1-
Part 2-

John Ronan Architects

Images of exhibit (Goldbergphotos).

And the winner was …

Spring Warmup Competition Results

Congratulations to all the participants and award winners

Official Jury Selections

Overall winner
Ryan Gann

Runner Up
Louis Peragallo 

Third Place (tie)
Yoon Lee
Qian Wang
John Perrine

Audience Choice Awards

Combined Audience Choice Winner
Aaron Mikottis

Runner Up Combined
Dolly Sehr

Project Winner
Ren Dai

Model Winner
Diane Konecky

Presentation Winner
Trevor Simmel

Honorable Mentions
Matthew Albright
Michael Chen
Matthews Del Salto
Yujia Deng
Joanna Domagala
Amanda Hardt
Maryana Hellman
Xinyun Huang
Euijun Jeong
Angela Kim
Diane Konecky
Tau Ma
Jeffrey McQuiston
Aaron Mikottis
Michael O’Rourke
Zachary Osborne
Christian Pereda
Jeffrey Petrick
Teresita Pineda
Andrew Potter
Ren Dai
Aldair Renteria
Nicholas Rienstra
Dolly Sehr
Trevor Simmel
Daniel Zweig

2 | St. Columbus (IN) Monastery Brief


In keeping with the spirit of the material, and using our newly honed intuitions regarding light and contemplation, we will spend the rest of the semester designing a Cistercian (Trappist) Monastery just outside of Columbus, Indiana.

“ Whoever sets foot in some peaceful haven of the Cistercian, whoever comes upon a scene of ruins in the snow, a church choir forgotten in the woods, a monastery perched on the Pyrenean cliffs, is moved by them.  Solemnity, calm and dignity speak from the stones.  Some part of everyone knows the longing for unconditional self-commitment, which gave these works birth; renouncing the world, living in an isolated community, in which each day is to be imbued with special meaning by that ultimate Truth of daring ideal, that through unceasing meditation upon God and his incessant praise one’s self may be forgotten and yet found.  The monastic ideal represents one of humanity’s truly imposing designs for living.”
Excerpt from: Braunfels, Wolfgang. Monasteries of Western Europe: The Architecture of the Orders.

As we have discussed, the Monastery project has been chosen specifically because of it’s incredibly strong programmatic nature, and it’s inward focus.  A Monastery might be a program that you may understand lightly on the surface, but in order to design, you will need to investigate and research in a manner you have likely not yet undertaken thus far in your architectural education.

A Monastery will afford us the opportunity to put our curiosities to work, and design primarily through the potentials of programming, which will be our first step.

– perform thorough research on an unknown building typology
– develop agendas, hypothesis and hunches based on authentic research
– perform thorough programmatic  analysis and discovery of the program based on your agendas
– research and document specific monastery precedents for comparison and analysis
– develop a specific building program from your research and building planning exercises

project brief:
Design a Roman Catholic Cistercian (Trappist) Monastery for 12 monks and an Abbott.  The Monastery should include:
– A Cloister
– A Chapel, with entry space, for a congregation of 120 people not including the monks.
– The primary spaces and subsequent support spaces of a Monastery including a Chapterhouse,  a library for a collection of 10,000 books, a scriptorium combined with the novices day room, and a refectory with hand washing lavatorium , kitchen and storage.
– Individual sleeping cells for the 12 monks and the abbot.
– Sufficient building support space such as mechanical and electrical rooms.

It will be assumed that the Trappist Monks will farm a local field and sell their produce to support themselves, but that the buildings and equipment necessary for those functions will be adjacent to but not part of your Monastery.  The design of these facilities is not to be included as part of your semester project, but understanding the daily routines, rituals and circulation paths to and from the farm will be critical.

There will be three initial steps in two phases – an initial research and precedent phase followed by a programmatic analysis phase. These phases will be described in more detail in subsequent blog posts.

The Holy Rule of St. Benedict
Parts of a Benedictine Monastery
The Carthusian Order
Charterhouse of the Transfiguration